When I set out on my “big trip,” I knew there was something besides an impressive photo collection to be gained from a trip of this nature. However, I had no idea what it was, or how to find it. After 2 months of traveling - constantly moving, and spending no more than a few nights in most places - I finally realized what I needed to do: stop.
I was beat and broke but not ready to head home yet. I had intended on continuing on to Asia with my sis, but realized I didn’t need to go further to get what I’d come for; I just needed to stay still for a little while. Alone.
When I came to this decision I was at the retreat for the second time. Just a few hours from Barcelona, a city I’d already had a brief love affair with, I planned to set up shop there for a month (or more?). I Airbnb’ed a room and spent the next few days dreaming of this free time ahead of me. I was done “traveling,” I just wanted to be for a while. I started a note file in my phone to list the ways I wanted to spend my time; I called it The Barcelona Plan. I still have it in my phone (I refuse to delete it); it’s dated 11/1/13 and reads:
Note: If you’re not familiar, Eatwith is an organization that brings people together over good food. So, food was a theme here…
It’s important to note that these were not things I did in my “former” life. Some I'd always wished I had time for (i.e. writing), others were new interests I’d uncovered while traveling: mostly health- and wellness-based activities. I successfully tackled at least 50% of this list. Upon arrival in Barcelona I unpacked my bags, bought a bike, and stocked the fridge with veggies. I signed up for early morning workout classes on the beach, went to yoga almost every day, and took a vegetarian cooking class (which I found on Meetup). I sat in my favorite Barcelona coffee shop, wrote stories, read articles on health and wellness, and found new recipes to try. I went to the markets and cooked in my Airbnb’ed kitchen. I made a friend at one Meetup event; we went to another to try to learn Spanish, and made a few more friends. Sadly, I did not dance; turns out early morning workouts and Barcelona’s super late nightlife do not mix, I had to choose.
As I sat in my coffee shop one day, I saw people working on their laptops, meeting up with friends, running errands, enjoying leisurely lunches, etc. I wondered how I’d missed the fact that so much life happens between the hours of 9 and 5. It hit me that I’d been inside an office during these times for my entire adult life, and while I’d always defined myself as someone who needs a steady “normal” office job, seeing this made me want to be a part of the secret world that happens during the day.
That was the day I began contemplating a different kind of life, but it wasn’t until my trip was over and I was back in the States that I realized what The Barcelona Plan really was: practice. It was my trial lifestyle. It was the life I really wanted to live but didn’t feel it was “realistic” back home. I stayed abroad and settled into a city where nobody knows me; I could be whoever I wanted. There were no expectations or demands on my time, I could do whatever I chose. I was curious to see if I could throw myself into health, wellness, and my writing before coming back and risking embarrassment if I couldn’t hack it. I needed to stay anonymous and in this dreamworld a little while longer, to try out this new lifestyle before attempting it back in my pre-existing reality.
Now here I am, 2.5 years after the The Barcelona Plan was written, and I’d say I’m doing pretty well. It took a few tries to make it stick, but I keep this note in my phone to remember what’s really important to me - the things I need to make space for in my life. While there’s always room for change and shifting priorities, this list reminds me where I started. In November of 2013, I made a list of things I wanted to do for the month, not even considering at the time that these were the things I actually wanted to do with my life, because it didn’t seem at all realistic to me….yet.
So if you had a month in a foreign city, where nobody knows you and there are no expectations as to who you are, who would you be? How would you spend your time? What would you learn? What would you try for the first time? What would you create? How can you begin to incorporate these things into your life now? Share in the comments below!
Wondering how to start doing the things you love? I’d love to chat! Hit me up for a free 30-minute coaching call and we’ll figure out what’s really important to you and how it can fit in with the realities of your life today.